In high school, we were masters of the one line song. Our greatest hit went like this:
Another Saturday night 70’s loser,
I myself and me, playing 45s on 33,
wishing Ann would go crazy on me.
As lyricists, we were uniquely qualified to recognize Boston’s genius. As far as popularity, we were both minor chords, but minor chords together. We had been friends since fourth grade. In high school, when the album came out, we never left our rooms it seemed except to go to each’s others house and into each other’s room and play the album endlessly while looking at the artwork and reading the urging call of the liner notes of – Listen to the Record, Listen to the Record. We were Boston’s high school ambassadors, showing everyone how the cover art was a giant guitar in space – a guitarcraft – powered by and emitting a turquoise blue flame from the mouth.
In my jock fantasy, wherein I become a major chord, I am on the cross-country team. At a meet, I come in first. The reporter from the local news pulls me aside and asks, while my chest is still heaving, “As a lifetime loser, how does it feel to finally win. I pause, and say, “It’s more than a feeling, man. It was this vision that gave me the idea. I said we should have Boston week at school and speak to each other and others only in Boston lyrics. He went first. Going through the lunch line, the server asked chili or sloppy joe? “All I want is to have a peace of mind,” he said. The line stalled for a minute and they stood looking at each other. He pointed to the chili.
All he could get out was ‘my dad killed himself.’ His mom came on the phone and said sweetie put your mother on.
They would be moving back to California. There was family there. I started counting down the days, and didn’t see him much during that time. As they pulled up to say goodbye, I realized I had never seen us cry. The first time I hugged him would be the last time I saw him. That close, I could smell his hair and realized he used the same green apple shampoo as my older sister.
He got small in the window as the car pulled away. I should have said I see my MaryAnn walking away, but thought such a hard goodbye should be my own words. But I had none.
A graduate of Purdue University’s creative writing program, Keith lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and their two highly-regarded dogs. His poetry has appeared in RHINO, Quarter After Eight and South Dakota Review. His flash fiction appeared in Juked and Wigleaf, and his writing was included in Best Small Fictions 2017 and 2019. “Elegy” (originally published in Wigleaf) received a 2018 Pushcart Prize. He has new work forthcoming in Bending Genres.